When I was even younger than I am now, my friends and I would go to the Yampa River to swim almost every day. We would jump into the current and swim hard toward an eddy, avoiding bumbling tubers making their way through each hole in the Yampa.

The river, especially in town, is divided by a series of rock features that create swimming holes. The most popular are Charlie’s Hole (known as the C Hole) behind the library and the D Hole behind the Art Depot.

The C Hole as seen from lower down the river at the D Hole

Recently, my friend and I donned our swimsuits and headed to the D Hole before sitting on the bank for an hour, getting the nerve to jump in.

It wasn’t the rapids. Kids as young as 8 were jumping in and having fun, while another group was trying to boogie board on the current.

It wasn’t a lack of equipment. We both had worn our trusted river shoes and were confident in their protection against stepping on rocks on the riverbed.

It was our fear of the cold. We saw everyone having fun but thought the cold spring runoff might be a bit too much for us.

When facing a fear, whether starting your descent down a ski hill or jumping into the river, think of how much more fun you’ll have by leaping in. Sitting on the sidelines will never be memorable. Just jump in, and enjoy it while you can!

We jumped and had the most fun I’ve had this summer.

The Yampa River has something for everyone: sun-tanning, snorkeling, tubing, body-surfing, boogie boarding, photo opportunities and a lot more.

My friend and I spent three hours swimming at the D Hole. We were exhausted by the end of our adventure, but we considered our mission a success. Swimming the Yampa is awesome. It’s free, and all you need is river shoes, a swimsuit (This isn’t Strawberry Park Hot Springs, so please don’t be that person.) and readiness for adventure.

I fished four bottles out of the river the day I swam, so please be aware of your trash while recreating along the Yampa. Tubers should add the extra precaution of tying their belongings to the tube so they aren’t lost if the tube flips. If you see trash in the river while you’re playing, be the one to take it out. And please don’t bring glass bottles on the Yampa. Those destroy our feet and our ecosystem.

Happy swimming!


Libby Lukens has lived in Steamboat Springs for 13 years and has loved every moment of it. She enjoys hiking, ice hockey, theater and exploring Steamboat’s beautiful community. She is determined to savor every moment she has in the mountains before heading to George Washington University in the fall to study political science.